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Fri Nov 30, 2012, 05:20 PM

Some observations from Alexis de Tocqueville

"Letters from America" (1831)

One moonless night... water began to sparkle like an electrifying machine. It was pitch black outside, and the ship’s prow slicing through the sea spewed fiery foam twenty feet in either direction. To get a better view, I shimmied onto the bowsprit. From that vantage point, the prow looked as if it were leaping at me with a forward wall of glittering waves; it was sublime and admirable beyond my ability to evoke it.

The right [north] bank of the Ohio is a scene of animation and industry; work is honored, no one owns slaves. But cross the river and you suddenly find yourself in another universe. Gone is the spirit of enterprise. Work is considered not only onerous but shameful: whoever engages in it degrades himself. The White Man is meant to ride horseback, to hunt, to smoke all day long; using one’s hands is what a slave does. South of the Ohio, Whites form a veritable aristocracy which, like every other, marries low prejudices to lofty instincts.

At first we found the absence of wine from meals a serious deprivation, and we are still baffled by the sheer quantity of food that people somehow stuff down their gullets. Besides breakfast, dinner, and tea, with which Americans eat ham, they have very copious suppers and often a snack. So far this is the only respect in which I do not challenge their superiority…


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Reply Some observations from Alexis de Tocqueville (Original post)
KansDem Nov 2012 OP
KamaAina Nov 2012 #1

Response to KansDem (Original post)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 05:39 PM

1. My personal favorite


"...I know of no other country where love of money has such a grip on men's hearts or where stronger scorn is expressed for the theory of permanent equality of property." -Democracy in America

Conservatives just love to quote de Tocqueville as though he had his own show on Faux. That's a nice one to stuff back in their faces.

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